City Council Talks Trump, Trails, Marijuana Dispensaries, Movies, and More

Wednesday, November 30, 2016, 7:00 am
By: 
Michael Teager

Above: Donald Trump (courtesy of Wikipedia) and a buck along East Lansing’s Northern Tier Trail

East Lansing’s City Council meeting last week was brief, but covered many topics, with four members present: Mayor Mark Meadows, Mayor Pro Tem Ruth Beier, and Councilmembers Erik Altmann and Shanna Draheim. All motions passed 4-0.

Upcoming resolution in response to presidential election: Mayor Pro Tem Ruth Beier remarked that she has heard from many East Lansing residents concerned about local consequences of the recent presidential election, and that Council intends to make a resolution, possibly in December, to affirm the municipal government’s inclusiveness of all residents. “No matter what happens in your federal and state governments, you’ve elected a progressive, fair, non-judgmental City Council,” said Beier, and that any threat or danger would be responded to with “all the force we can bear.”

Written communications: All written communications received by Council since the November 9 meeting may be viewed here. None of them directly addressed any of Tuesday’s agenda topics, but they did cover numerous issues. Many were related to local ramifications of the presidential election.

Trail extension request: Council approved a resolution to authorize a request for $520,000 from the Ingham County Trails and Parks Millage Program for various trail updates, including an extension of the Northern Tier Trail through White Park, the connection of two dead end segments on Lake Lansing Road, and a paved connection between the Northern Tier Trail and a “future Meridian Township pathway extension.”

ELFD personnel recognized: East Lansing Fire Department Chief Randy Talifarro offered a special presentation to City Council recognizing recent promotions and new hires, introducing each of them individually along with their families. Promotions included Leo Allaire, Kirk Easterbrook, and Derek Johnson. New hires included Jorge Buduen, Joe Cleminson, Tyler Epling, Joe Hoffman Alecia Kelley, Joe Pontack, and Thaddeus Selden.

Medical marijuana ordinance referred to Planning Commission: Council referred Ordinance 1395 to the Planning Commission for consideration. The proposed ordinance aims to “define, allow for, and regulate medical marihuana facilities.”

New Planning and Zoning Administrator:  Planning Director Tim Dempsey recognized Tim Johnson, City Staff’s new Planning and Zoning Administrator.  

Public hearing for pavement ordinance: Council set a public hearing for January 10, 2017 for consideration of Ordinance 1392 regarding definitions related to “pavement expansion, maintenance, and reconstruction.”

Committee for renaming Shaw Park Tower Park: Council authorized Mayor Meadows to appoint a committee for consideration of a proposal to rename Shaw Park Tower Park to Gordon Guyer Park. The committee includes  former East Lansing mayor Sam Singh (Chair), Jim Little, Bev Baten, Jill Young, and Kary Deveraux.

Financial Health Team public forum: Councilmember Altmann offered a reminder on the Financial Health Team’s engagement forums.

American Cancer Society Power in Purple: Councilmember Draheim mentioned the American Cancer Society’s Power in Purple campaign to raise funds for the East Lansing branch of the American Cancer Society.

Bond committee reports to school board: Mayor Meadows reminded the public that the bond committee report would be submitted to the East Lansing School Board on November 28. (Read ELi’s report on the meeting.) Meadows said the matter was of importance to not just ELPS but to the community as a whole.

Rezoning of the former Evergreen Apartments site: In its public hearing portion of the meeting, Council approved Ordinance 1388, which Dempsey called an “administrative cleanup procedure” to revert the property at 341-345 Evergreen Avenue to a RM32, City Center Multiple Family Residential zone from its classification of a B3, City Center Commercial District zone. The latter designation was given to the site as part of the terminated pre-development agreement with the Park District Investment Group, LLC, the former owner of the property. By reverting the property to RM32, it may now be officially considered for new development.

Suggestion of downtown theater: Jim Anderson of Roxburgh Avenue was the only speaker to address Council during the meeting’s public comment portion. Anderson, an MSU faculty member for 50 years, discussed his recently attending the Traverse City Film Festival and the need for a theater in East Lansing, preferably downtown. Lamenting the loss of the old State Theater across from Beggar’s Banquet, he said that he’s “tired of driving to Lansing, Meridian Township, or Lansing Township” for dinner and a movie. Anderson suggested that if the nascent Park District project is to receive TIF funds, then the project should provide a significant public benefit, and that a theater would be integral to making East Lansing more “vibrant.”

Mayor Meadows briefly responded that MSU is supportive of the East Lansing Film Festival by providing services, space, and logistical support. (Councilmember Susan Woods, who is the Director of the East Lansing Film Festival, was absent from the meeting.)

Reminder: You can speak to Council at its public meetings or write to council@cityofeastlansing.com on any issue.

Publisher's note: Do you want us to keep reporting for you on East Lansing City Council meetings? Then now is the time to act. ELi's Board of Directors has set a deadline of reaching sustainable local support by January 31 or ceasing operations. Read more.